Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Everyone Hates Everyone (And Everyone Hates You)

So on the same Pharyngula thread that spawned my last post, an interesting couple of comments appeared. "Troy", self-identified as gay, described himself as "normal gay", which he distinguished from "faggy, feminine gays", whom normal gays don't like.

Now, of course, Troy could simply be trolling. Sadly, though, it is entirely possible that he is speaking honestly about his experience. Although the original article wrote of a dance sponsored by a very inclusive group, it is certainly not unheard of for the various factions within the group to be at odds with one another. Although I am not aware of any good evidence, anecdotal tales abound--a very dear friend of mine surprised me once by stating that bisexuals irritated her, since as a lesbian she felt that they were simply gays who were to chickenshit to admit it.

Of course, there is a vast literature on ingroup/outgroup biases; even "minimal group" membership (group membership determined by, say, the flip of a coin) can result in biases that favor ingroups at the expense of outgroups. Where an outside observer might find tremendous agreement between two groups, members of those groups tend to accentuate the differences and minimize shared characteristics, and as a result see crucial, important differences (which always seem to leave their own group morally superior to the losers in the outgroup). Thus two groups of nominal Christians can kill each other in Northern Ireland, or two ethnic minorities attack one another instead of joining against the majority, and Troy, though gay, can nonetheless be a bigot, prejudiced against those "faggy feminine gays" with which he must share nothing at all in common.

Oh, well.

So the closet-living homos hate the homos who are out
And the bulls and femmes are enemies, of that there is no doubt;
Bi-curious are furious, and don't know what to do--
Seems everyone hates everyone, and everyone hates you.

The Catholics and the Protestants, for centuries, have fought
And the Sunnis and the Shia are a little overwrought;
From the Hindu to the Mormon to the Buddhist to the Jew
Seems everyone hates everyone, and everyone hates you.

The white folks hate the black folks, and the black folks hate the white,
The brown and red and yellow folks are also apt to fight
We'll treat you like an animal, for skin a different hue--
Seems everyone hates everyone, and everyone hates you.


Thomas Atkinson said...

This sort of thing makes me crazy, and it's so hard to fight. Me, I love the "faggy, feminine" gay folks -- it's got to be harder, it's got to take so much more bravery than to be a boring, "normal" gay man like myself. The drag queens and the leather daddies are my people -- but folks like Troy are my people, too. I wish we could all focus on the good things we all have in common, and celebrate our differences -- they're good, too.

Podblack said...

I love you.

Does that make me anti-human?

I've seen a lot of debate about 'differences within the gender' being more significant than 'differences between genders'. I should see if there's any truth to that.

Cuttlefish said...

Thomas, thanks for your comment. It reminds me of the "inclusiveness training" documents I came across in a classroom--something so simple as watching the choice of words, using the inclusive "us" instead of "you":

"Those of us who are gay may be treated X, whereas those of us who are straight will not notice this; those of us who are black, those of us who are white, those of us who are religious or not...." The "us" as "my people", as you put it, should be a very big category.

And Podblack, those of us who are cuttlefish don't count--everyone hates everyone, but everyone loves cephalopods!

Rogue Medic said...

a very dear friend of mine surprised me once by stating that bisexuals irritated her, since as a lesbian she felt that they were simply gays who were to chickenshit to admit it.

As if this is significantly different from the guys who claim that lesbians are only lesbian because they haven't had the pleasure of intercourse with that guy.

At least Northern Ireland seems to be making some progress.

cazfans said...

I suspect a biological mechanism in some of this "hate." Based on some ability to detect "opposites" which gets extended to opposites must oppose some how. Opposites must share a lot in common or they aren't opposite. A girl & a boy are opposites, but a girl and a cuttlefish are not. They may be girls opposed to cuttlefish, but most of us aren't. ;-)

Blake Stacey said...

I like to think of myself as empirical evidence that even a bisexual person can be stupefyingly boring.

"A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts."

— James Madison, Federalist No. 10.

"Oh, the Catholics hate the Protestants
And the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Hindus hate the Moslems
And everybody hates the Jews!"

— Tom Lehrer, "National Brotherhood Week"